In a sentence I never thought I’d write, I owe a lot to The Great American Barbeque Showdown. Prior to that awful, awful Netflix show my understanding of barbeque was based around what was I told; what I saw. I probably leant more towards believing that the Texas style was gospel, because that is what I was reading. Dry rubs heavy on black pepper, never, ever coated in sauce. Lots of oak and hickory and as much grilling as smoking. That awful, awful Netflix show taught me that there is far more to it than that. Four styles of regional barbeque, each with varying local practices. There are wet and dry rubs, sauces heavy on the brown sugar and mops and drippings. 


I think Dicks Smokehouse owes most of its menu to the Kansas style of barbeque. Dark and softly caramelised baby back ribs, and pulled meats bound in sauces with varying amounts of sugar, vinegar, and heat. A simple ode to time and smoke, with vast cuts of animal slowly cooked until fat and muscle fibres have ambitions to be jelly at very best. It’s cooking that can only stem from a love of the food and memories of expensive holidays. They’ve chosen to set up in Bromsgrove because it’s home to them, but also because it’s the kind of place an affluent neighbourhood can support. It’s rammed on the day I go. I literally have to beg for a table. 


I start with cubes of pork belly, coated in a dark glossy liquor and crispy pork skin fragments. There is notionally something green to pretend that this isn’t just pig coated in pig, even if it is pig coated in pig done extremely well. There is a croquette of ham, oozy with molten cheddar and jalapenos. It is a beast the size of a baby’s forearm. The precision is there; accurate seasoning and a good balance of heat. Dick can clearly do more than whack a bit of animal in the smoker and read a newspaper. 


Two burgers for main, one a pulled pork bound in BBQ sauce, the other with shredded beef and Kansas sauce. Simple but extremely well executed, with good pickles and a brioche bun that just about maintains its integrity. It’s not reinventing the wheel, nor does it need to. They spent years honing their craft doing street food events and these were firm favourites for a reason. I happen to like the pit beans best. Smokey, brooding and with more pig, I could eat them as a meal in itself. Only the fries don’t oink, but maybe they’d taste better if they did. It’s just a suggestion. 


Bottle of wine and a bill of about £60. I say about £60 because I ate here ages ago and I’m taking a punt based on what I ate. The truth is for months I looked at the pictures and my notes and had no real idea about what I was writing about. It took a bunch of over enthusiastic Americans on Netflix to get me off my arse to read about the different styles, in turn putting me in a better position to convey what I think about it. You really don’t need to go to that much effort. Just go and enjoy the food, it’s really very good.